\ ˈkrīm How to pronounce crime (audio) \

Definition of crime

1 : an illegal act for which someone can be punished by the government especially : a gross violation of law
2 : a grave offense especially against morality
3 : criminal activity efforts to fight crime
4 : something reprehensible, foolish, or disgraceful It's a crime to waste good food.

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Other Words from crime

crimeless \ ˈkrīm-​ləs How to pronounce crime (audio) \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for crime

offense, sin, vice, crime, scandal mean a transgression of law. offense applies to the infraction of any law, rule, or code. at that school no offense went unpunished sin implies an offense against moral or religious law. the sin of blasphemy vice applies to a habit or practice that degrades or corrupts. regarded gambling as a vice crime implies a serious offense punishable by the law of the state. the crime of murder scandal applies to an offense that outrages the public conscience. a career ruined by a sex scandal

Examples of crime in a Sentence

She paid dearly for her crimes. evidence that helped them solve the crime He was punished for a crime that he didn't commit. the recent increase in violent crime Being single is not a crime. There's no greater crime than forgetting your anniversary.
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Recent Examples on the Web But land disputes and petty crime are well managed, compared to the Afghan government’s corrupt bureaucracy, said Mr. Mohammad. New York Times, "The Taliban Close In on Afghan Cities, Pushing the Country to the Brink," 15 Feb. 2021 In 2018, police arrested Joseph James DeAngelo by comparing DNA left at crime scenes to DNA profiles taken through genealogy websites. oregonlive, "Human remains found at Multnomah Falls identified after 42 years; more cold cases may be solved with genetic genealogy," 15 Feb. 2021 The film, which debuted yesterday in theaters and on HBO Max, is part crime thriller, part civil-rights historical drama. Elizabeth Hinton, The Atlantic, "Judas and the Black Messiah Warns Us About Black Lives Matter," 13 Feb. 2021 Judas and the Black Messiah has all the trappings of a genre movie — it’s a gritty crime thriller that unfolds on the tense stage of an anti-police revolution — but it shouldn’t be underestimated as a history lesson. Nick Allen, Vulture, "Who’s Who in Judas and the Black Messiah: A Character Guide," 13 Feb. 2021 Taking after her talented parents, little Ruby once appeared as the crime-fighting superhero in Randall's comedy webseries Baby Mentalist. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Randall and Jae Suh Park's Epic Love Story Is an Absolute Must-Read," 12 Feb. 2021 Delivery workers are particularly vulnerable to carjacking, and especially right now, says Michael Cherbonneau, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of North Florida who studies street crime. Aarian Marshall, Wired, "Carjackings Are Up—and Gig Workers Are Getting Victimized," 12 Feb. 2021 She's served as an investigative reporter and covered justice issues, crime, protests, wildfires and government affairs. Darcie Moran, Detroit Free Press, "Traveler hid more than $60,000 in package of sanitary napkins, CBP says," 12 Feb. 2021 This upsetting reveal leads to Cecil Hotel’s ultimate message: mythologizing a true crime mystery may lead to an insidious conspiracy theory totally untethered to the already devastating truth — and hurt a lot of people along the way. Ariana Romero,, "The Vanishing At The Cecil Hotel Ending Reveals What Happened To Elisa Lam — & Another Insidious Twist," 11 Feb. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'crime.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of crime

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for crime

Middle English, "wrongdoing, sin," borrowed from Anglo-French, going back to Latin crīmin-, crīmen "accusation, charge, indictment, source of an accusation, misdeed, offense," probably from crī-, variant stem of cernere "to sift, discern, decide, determine" + -men, resultative noun suffix (probably originally "decision," then "judicial decision, indictment") — more at certain entry 1

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Time Traveler for crime

Time Traveler

The first known use of crime was in the 14th century

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Statistics for crime

Last Updated

22 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Crime.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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More Definitions for crime



English Language Learners Definition of crime

: an illegal act for which someone can be punished by the government
: activity that is against the law : illegal acts in general
: an act that is foolish or wrong


\ ˈkrīm How to pronounce crime (audio) \

Kids Definition of crime

1 : the act of doing something forbidden by law or the failure to do an act required by law
2 : an act that is foolish or wrong It's a crime to waste food.


\ ˈkrīm How to pronounce crime (audio) \

Legal Definition of crime

1 : conduct that is prohibited and has a specific punishment (as incarceration or fine) prescribed by public law — compare delict, tort
2 : an offense against public law usually excluding a petty violation — see also felony, misdemeanor

Note: Crimes in the common-law tradition were originally defined primarily by judicial decision. For the most part, common-law crimes are now codified. There is a general principle “nullum crimen sine lege,” that there can be no crime without a law. A crime generally consists of both conduct, known as the actus reus, and a concurrent state of mind, known as the mens rea.

3 : criminal activity

History and Etymology for crime

Middle French, from Latin crimen fault, accusation, crime

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More from Merriam-Webster on crime

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for crime

Nglish: Translation of crime for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of crime for Arabic Speakers

Comments on crime

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